Manchester United and Manchester City tracking latest Sporting Lisbon wonderkid 2 years ago

Manchester United and Manchester City tracking latest Sporting Lisbon wonderkid

Sporting Lisbon have an excellent track record of producing stars.

The Portuguese club boasts one of the finest youth academies in world football. It's a mystical talent factory that has shaped the likes of Ballon d'Or winners Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo.

Its output since then hasn't been too shabby either, giving us Nani, Ricardo Quaresma and Joao Moutinho. In fact, eight of the Portugal starting line-up that beat France in the Euro 2016 final were developed at Sporting.

Now, the club looks to have another gem on its hands.

Sporting's 18-year-old striker Rafael Leao is beginning to really turn a few heads. Despite having only played four senior games, interest in the forward is reportedly immense, with the club being said to have already rejected several inquiries from Premier League sides.

However, those rebuttals aren't deterring the Manchester clubs, both of whom are said to be keeping a close eye on Leao's progress. According to The Mirror, all of the Premier League's top six - Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal - had scouts watching Leao as he scored for Sporting against Porto last weekend.

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Real Madrid are also thought to be looming ominously in the background.

For a player who has just burst onto the scene, the level of interest is staggering. Some would feel that United may have an edge on their rivals, however, seeing as the club have a good working relationship with Sporting dating back to signing Ronaldo for £12.5 million in 2003.

Since then, United have signed Nani and Marcos Rojo from the Portuguese side.

The interest from Premier League heavyweights is not without reason. Leao is certainly an eye-catching talent as a striker with bags of pace and a clinical finish. His game is largely shaped by that blistering burst of acceleration which allows him to elude defenders and run in behind, a quality that is extremely attractive to managers.

Although he is largely untested and certainly still raw in terms of his development, it's important to remember that Ronaldo was signed by United on the basis of one pre-season game. Of course, Ronaldo is an exceptional and extraordinarily gifted player and Leao is nowhere near the levels of the Real Madrid superstar. However, judging by the glowing appraisals of the youngster so far, he may be worth taking the risk on.